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Sun safety in Queensland

Queenslanders boast an outdoor lifestyle, but exposure to the sun and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) comes with some risks:

The UV index measures UVR on a scale of 1 to 11 and beyond. The higher the number, the stronger the radiation and the faster your skin will burn.

  • Queensland's UV Index is 3 or higher all year round.
  • You are at risk of skin damage when the UV Index is 3 or above.

The UV index is an international standard measurement of the strength of sunburn-producing ultraviolet radiation (or the sun’s ultraviolet strength) at a particular place and time.

Exposure to the sun and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) can cause melanoma.

  • Melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in the 15-44 age group in 2011.
  • Queensland has the highest rate of melanoma in Australia, and Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates in the world.

Read more about the health trends for Queenslanders in the biennial Chief Health Officer reports.

Use the data visualisation tools and resources to find detailed regional adult and childhood sunburn and sun protection statistics for your area.

High risk user groups

Groups of people who spend a lot of time outdoors, and children, face higher risks of skin damage from UVR exposure.

Outdoor workers:

  • Outdoor workers need to protect themselves from the sun, as more than 10 minutes outdoors when the UV index is 3 or above can be damaging.
  • They receive 5 to 10 times more UVR exposure per year than indoor workers. It has been estimated that around 200 melanomas and 34,000 non melanoma skin cancers are caused by occupational UVR exposure in Australia each year.
  • Employers also have a responsibility to provide sun safe workplaces for people who work outdoors.


  • Children’s skin is thinner and is particularly vulnerable to UVR damage and intense exposure significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma.
  • Research demonstrates that people who experience five or more sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double their risk of developing melanoma.

Reducing sun exposure

Seeking shade is one of the 5 ways you can protect yourself from UVR.

Any council or organisation planning, building or designing outdoor facilities has a key role in ensuring there is adequate shade, that suits the environment, the community's needs and promotes sun safe activities.

Read more about enhancing community wellbeing and liveability

More information

5 ways to be sun safe
Sun safety and skin cancer

Last updated: 20 April 2016